Identifying the causes of road crashes in Europe

This research applies a recently developed model of accident causation, developed to investigate industrial accidents, to a specially gathered sample of 997 crashes investigated in-depth in 6 countries. Based on the work of Hollnagel the model considers a collision to be a consequence of a breakdown in the interaction between road users, vehicles and the organisation of the traffic environment. 54% of road users experienced interpretation errors while 44% made observation errors and 37% planning errors. In contrast to other studies only 11% of drivers were distracted and 8% inattentive. There was remarkably little variation in these errors between the main road user types. The application of the model to future in-depth crash studies offers the opportunity to identify new measures to improve safety and to mitigate the social impact of collisions. Examples given include the potential value of co-driver advisory technologies to reduce observation errors and predictive technologies to avoid conflicting interactions between road users.